Retailers: Invest in Digital Offerings
Retail sales rose 0.6 percent in December, according to the US Commerce Department, showing a relatively flat holiday spending period after a 0.2 rise in November. However, online retailers reported better sales, indicating a growing need for the integration of ecommerce and use of real-time data within retailers’ customer experience.
Digital disruption is driving fundamental changes in business models across nearly every industry, presenting a number of major challenges for the C-suite. Near the top of this list is the risk of creating a “digital disconnect” with millennial customers due to an inflexible customer service approach.
Gartner predicts that by 2018, more than 50 percent of organizations will redirect their investments to customer experience innovations. Investing in the customer experience is a key strategy to build customer loyalty, which is clearly demonstrated in a recent Walker study, which found that by 2020, customer experience will become the most important brand differentiator.
With new digital native customers entering the market each day, an ever-increasing percentage of consumers have grown up to expect always-on, always connected 24/7 service, across a wide range of devices.
According to Rakesh Khanna, CEO and President of global IT and business solutions provider Syntel, retail businesses must integrate new technologies to give them the ability to meet those expectations.
“Retailers are accountable to customers, and their success is measured not just in terms of the quality of the products they offer, but also by the quality and consistency of the customer experience,” said Khanna. “Business leaders need to recognize the impact of digital technologies on their business operations, as well as their ability to help retain and increase market share.”
Khanna names a number of digital technologies with the ability to impact the customer experience, including automation, real-time data and social media.
An automation strategy can typically free up 40 percent of operations bandwidth, enabling retailers to redirect critical staff and technology resources to the front-end, so they can focus on customer engagement.
Real-time data enables businesses to monitor customer shopping habits, track interest in individual products across in-store, online and mobile shopping channels, and achieve insights into stock levels and supply chain to ensure that the right products are available for purchase.
Social media monitoring and engagement also helps companies build customer communities and offer more personalized service through a better understanding of consumer behavior, attitudes and preferences.
“Those who invest in these technologies first will have an advantage in tomorrow’s marketplace, and the steps they take now will determine their future success,” said Khanna. “CEOs must be able to see the big picture, especially how integrating digital across the business can increase customer engagement and deliver efficiency that improves customer satisfaction across the entire purchasing experience.
“Businesses cannot start this digital transformation journey alone,” Khanna added. “They need partners who specialize in implementing and integrating digital systems across the enterprise in order to seamlessly transform their business model.”
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